Lenin's Jewish Question

Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern

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In this first examination of Lenin’s genealogical and political connections to East European Jews, Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern reveals the broad cultural meanings of indisputable evidence that Lenin’s maternal grandfather was a Jew. He examines why and how Lenin’s Jewish relatives converted to Christianity, explains how Lenin’s vision of Russian Marxism shaped his identity, and explores Lenin’s treatment of party colleagues of Jewish origin and the Jewish Question in Europe. Petrovsky-Shtern also uncovers the continuous efforts of the Soviet communists to suppress Lenin’s Jewishness and the no less persistent attempts of Russian extremists to portray Lenin as a Jew. In this fascinating book, Petrovsky-Shtern expands our understanding not only of Lenin, but also of Russian and Soviet handling of the Jewish Question.

Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern is associate professor of history and director of the Crown Family Center for Jewish Studies at Northwestern University. His previous books include The Anti-Imperial Choice: The Making of the Ukrainian Jew (Yale). He lives in Chicago.

“[Petrovsky-Shtern is] keenly aware of the way that, in today's Russia, Jews continue to be blamed… he tries to set the record straight by proving that, in the key case of Lenin, there was nothing Jewish about the man.”--Ruth Wisse, JewishIdeasDaily.com

“This slim volume is fascinating, as the author skillfully reveals the archival evidence about Lenin’s family origins and describes the fate of the evidence and those who had the temerity to try to reveal it against the wishes of the Soviet leadership, from Stalin to Gorbachev.”—Jewish Book World

“Concise and to the point, this book is for anyone interested in Lenin, the formative years of the Soviet Union, and the impact anti-Semitism had, and continues to have, on Russian history.”—Joseph Segre, The Canadian Jewish News

“. . . . excellent book, which is written with great wit and energy and is a simply a pleasure to read.”—Michael C. Hickey, H-Judaic, H-Net Reviews

". . . this fascinating interpretive story of the formation, transformation, and independent life of the phantom of a Jewish Lenin makes an important contribution in the field of Russian, Soviet, and post-Soviet studies."—Dina Zisserman-Brodsky, The Russian Review

"This slim volume, which can be read in one sitting, debunks the myths and should be the last word on the subject."—Eugene M. Avrutin, Slavic Review

"Petrovsky-Shtern’s achievement in turning a so-called irrelevant question into an insightful look into contemporary Russian anti-Semitism is a product of impressive archival research and artful analytical synthesis. That he managed to do so through such a readable and compelling book is all the more impressive."—Simon Rabinovitch, Revolutionary Russia
ISBN: 9780300152104
Publication Date: August 31, 2010
224 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
10 b/w in 7-page text gallery
The Anti-Imperial Choice

The Making of the Ukrainian Jew

Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern

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